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IFallsRon

St. Cloud State coach hits the jackpot

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Note that the assistants won't starve either.

SCSU rewards Motzko with 6-year extension

By Kevin Allenspach

kallenspach@stcloudtimes.com

One of the focuses for the St. Cloud State athletic department is the pending expansion of the National Hockey Center, making it more of an economic engine for the school. On Tuesday, the Huskies announced a building block that has less to do with mortar and cement than putting the best team on the ice.

Bob Motzko has signed a six-year contract extension — the longest ever given to a St. Cloud State head coach — that will pay him more than $1 million over the length of the deal. While a construction schedule for the renovated rink has yet to be finalized, the new contract will have Motzko behind the bench through 2015 — which should be well after the new facility is in operation.

“This is exciting stuff, no question,” said Motzko, whose overall and WCHA records are the best of the Huskies’ Division I era. “With the new rink and the players we’ve got and the good kids coming in, there’s a lot to look forward to.”

Motzko succeeded former head coach Craig Dahl in 2005 and coached the Huskies to the first of back-to-back 22-win seasons. He was the WCHA Coach of the Year in 2006 and a co-winner of the award in 2007, when SCSU finished second in the league and returned to the NCAA Tournament after a four-year absence. In 2007-08, his team finished fourth and also made the NCAAs. Last season, the Huskies finished sixth and were 18-17-3 — with six of those losses coming against the University of Minnesota.

SCSU athletic director Morris Kurtz said he was able to give Motzko a six-year contract because of a change in the collective bargaining agreement for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.

According to Kurtz, Motzko’s salary — and that of other coaches at SCSU – has been frozen under a MnSCU directive. Motzko was paid about $167,000 in 2008-09.

“This was the first time we could do a six-year contract, and I wanted to take advantage of it right away,” Kurtz said. “He’s our guy. He’s built on the foundation (Dahl) left behind and I intend to do everything I can to keep him coaching at St. Cloud State until he retires.”

Motzko’s teams have been to the WCHA Final Five three times. Missing that experience this season had a stinging effect.

“I’m not going to overanalyze the building process, but I don’t think it hurt us from a long-term standpoint,” Motzko said. “It stung, yes, but when you look at the overall big picture I feel very good about where we’re at and where we’re going. At the beginning, when I first got here, we were fortunate those first few years. We were picked ninth (in 2005-06). There was more talent here than people realized. This is a solid program — from all our NCAA appearances to the guys we’ve got in the National Hockey League. The big thing that’s eluding us is some end-of-the-year excitement.”

The Huskies’ lone championship remains the Broadmoor Trophy title from the 2001 WCHA Final Five.

“Hockey is about the playoffs,” Motzko said. “Whether it’s the Final Five or the NCAA Tournament, those are games we want to win so we can bring some of that excitement to St. Cloud State. It’s hard because the WCHA is so competitively balanced. We’ve been hurt by losing some underclassmen to the pros – which is a positive and a negative. It’s positive because it shows you have talent, but it’s a negative because it takes away some of what you need at the end of the year.

“But I believe we can do what Bemidji State did and what Miami did,” Motzko added, referencing two Frozen Four teams from April. “We’ve got some great kids and the renovation on the way. Everything is pointing that we’re going in the right direction.”

The two-year contracts of SCSU assistants Mike Gibbons and Eric Rud also have been renewed. Gibbons, who recently completed his second year with the Huskies, was paid about $92,000 last season. Rud, who came to SCSU with Motzko in 2005, made about $74,000.

“We’ve made some progress in compensating our coaches competitively at the Division I level and our goal is to do that for all our Division II sports as well,” Kurtz said.

Motzko year-by-year

2005-06: 13-13-2 WCHA (6th), 22-16-4 overall

2006-07: 14-7-7 WCHA (2nd), 22-11-7 overall

2007-08: 12-12-4 WCHA (4th), 19-16-5 overall

2008-09: 13-13-2 WCHA (6th), 18-17-3 overall

Highlights: Made Final Five in 2006, 2007 and 2008; Made NCAA Tournament in 2007 and 2008; coached two Hobey Baker finalists (Bobby Goepfert and Ryan Lasch) and the 2007 Hockey Coaches Association Rookie of the Year (Andreas Nodl). Five of the players he has coached at SCSU have gone on to play in the NHL (Casey Borer, Joe Jensen, Nodl, Nate Raduns and Andrew Gordon).

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